Really high pH? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 11 Old 02-12-2014, 08:35 PM Thread Starter
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Really high pH?

I'm not entirely new to fish, but it has been several years since I had a tank. I'm fishless cyling a 60G tank right now. I have a couple of large pieces of drift wood and I bought play sand at Home Depot for $5 for the substrate. It's this sand: Quikrete 50 lb. Play Sand-111351 at The Home Depot

Now my issue: my tap water pH is 7.5. When I measured out of the tank, it's 8.4. It has to be the sand, right? Or is this just from cycling? I don't recall having this problem when I fishless cycled before.
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post #2 of 11 Old 02-13-2014, 04:43 AM
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I used that same playsand and it did not affect my ph. Must be somthing else. I think ph swings a little when you start a cycle.
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post #3 of 11 Old 02-13-2014, 07:21 AM
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When you measured your tap pH, did you let it sit for 24 hours before you tested it? It changes the pH.
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post #4 of 11 Old 02-13-2014, 08:51 AM Thread Starter
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Changing substrate...

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When you measured your tap pH, did you let it sit for 24 hours before you tested it? It changes the pH.
Sure did.

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I used that same playsand and it did not affect my ph. Must be somthing else. I think ph swings a little when you start a cycle.
After doing more searching about high pH and sand, I did find a few posts saying that the play sand may vary depending on region. I'm in Milwaukee and we have a TON of limestone in the area. I pulled a scoop of sand out, put it in a cup, poured vinegar over it and it's bubbling and hissing. Ugh. I should have done this before I added it to the tank but I had no idea because there was no indication on the packaging.

So my question now is, I know I need to swap the sand out (I have silica sand to use instead), what is the best way to go about this? I have no fish, just a mature filter I got from a friend that I'd rather try and keep the small amount of bacteria alive during this process and avoid clogging my filter with sand. I'm running an Emperor 400.
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Last edited by mkefsh; 02-13-2014 at 08:55 AM.
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post #5 of 11 Old 02-13-2014, 08:54 AM
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It really won't hurt anything.

As a general rule of thumb, fish that prefer soft water can be adapted (SLOWLY) to hard water. Fish that prefer hard water can almost never be adapted to soft water. The reason for this is that there are certain minerals and trace elements in the water that fish need to utilize to survive. Fish that live in softer water utilize these minerals with very little left in the water. The harder the water is, the more of these minerals and elements there are. Therefor, when you put a soft water fish in harder water, they use what they need and there are simply more minerals left in the water. When you try to do the reverse, however, and put a hard water fish in soft water, there aren't enough minerals for it to sustain life properly and it will likely perish. As long as you get the fish locally (should have similar water to you already) or acclimate VERY slowly, you should be fine keeping a softer water fish in hard water. Keep in mind, there are some fish that just won't tolerate it but a vast majority of fish will. I keep Neon Tetras in my water which has a pH of 8.4 and a KH/GH of 14-16.

If you really don't want it, drain the tank, scoop out as much as possible and put whatever substrate you want in. A little bit of sand staying won't hurt anything and I have yet to find a way (other than completely drying it out) to get sand out of a tank.
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post #6 of 11 Old 02-13-2014, 10:33 AM
Could you work with it, stocking cichlids for example? Or will the pH drop over time to where the tank is no longer suitable for them?
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post #7 of 11 Old 02-13-2014, 11:56 AM Thread Starter
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As a general rule of thumb, fish that prefer soft water can be adapted (SLOWLY) to hard water. Fish that prefer hard water can almost never be adapted to soft water. The reason for this is that there are certain minerals and trace elements in the water that fish need to utilize to survive. Fish that live in softer water utilize these minerals with very little left in the water. The harder the water is, the more of these minerals and elements there are. Therefor, when you put a soft water fish in harder water, they use what they need and there are simply more minerals left in the water. When you try to do the reverse, however, and put a hard water fish in soft water, there aren't enough minerals for it to sustain life properly and it will likely perish.
Thanks for the explanation. I have heard that fish can adapt but never understood why. This makes perfect sense!

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Could you work with it, stocking cichlids for example? Or will the pH drop over time to where the tank is no longer suitable for them?
I could, but I really have my heart set on a couple of Angels. Ideally, I'd like to have a couple Blue Rams as well, and I know they can be pretty sensitive. I'm not sure how long the pH will stay up with the sand. It did drop some (below 8.0) with a partial water change, so I would worry about pH drops if I did go the cichlid route.

Last edited by mkefsh; 02-13-2014 at 11:59 AM.
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post #8 of 11 Old 02-14-2014, 09:33 AM
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Posts removed. Thanks for the Alert.

mkefsh... are there ANY live plants in the tank yet?

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Last edited by SeaHorse; 02-14-2014 at 10:14 AM.
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post #9 of 11 Old 02-14-2014, 09:55 AM Thread Starter
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mkefsh... are there ANY live plants in the tank yet?
Plants are arriving today. I wanted to get this taken care of before they arrived.

I did swap out the sand. Once I drained most of the water and scooped out as much sand as I could, a wet/dry shop vac made easy work of the rest of it. Not as bad as I originally thought.

pH measures as expected now too and as a bonus this sand looks better in the tank.
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post #10 of 11 Old 02-14-2014, 10:06 AM
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Do you know what the hardness of your water is (gh and kh)?
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